Book review: On the Trail of Genghis Khan

One of the more unique books that I’ve had the great pleasure to read is Tim Cope’s On the Trails of Genghis Khan, and it was riveting. Given that Genghis Khan’s hordes traveled over massive territory, the trails in question ranged from Mongolia to the Danube River in Hungary. However, the catch was that Mr. Cope was pursuing this via horseback. It took him over three years to complete this goal, but along the way, he was able to gain valuable insight to the countries (Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine) and the way their nomadic culture evolved. Relying on the locals to take care of his horses (and a dog) through their shared knowledge, Cope learned techniques to preserve his food and increase the longevity of his horses’ stamina, among the many practical and spiritual lessons over the course of this journey.

When I first started reading this, the cultural aspect was what enticed me. Admittedly, I’ve read a fair amount on Central Asia, so the steppes and the nomadic culture was somewhat familiar. However, Cope was able to dive wholeheartedly into it, and consequently, the reader is able to explore a magnificent world. He chronicled the highs and lows of his journey as well as the colorful people he met-I came away learning more about the ethnic groups populating these regions. He wrote about the legacy of living in the gers, and how the modernization of the respective countries he traveled to have slowly eradicated the nomadic culture; this added more emphasis on the prestige of living a nomadic lifestyle. It was sad to read about how Kazakhstan, with a rich tradition of nomads and horses, has gradually shunned that as part of modernizing. From the evocative prose to the pictures included within the book, Tim Cope’s journey makes you want to embark on your own!

This book was a fascinating insight into a sparsely populated yet intruiging region. Part adventure and part travel commentary, Tim Cope’s book will charm readers. He writes evocatively, and it placed emphasis on the challenges he faced in undergoing this monumental journey. The subheader for the book was “an epic journey through the land of the nomads,” and it was an epic read for sure!

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